Union External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday said the relationship between India and China had been profoundly disturbed because of the “bloodshed” on the border after 45 years, Reuters reported.
Jaishankar made the remark in reference to the clashes between Indian and Chinese soldiers in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley in June. The tensions between the two countries started with initial scuffles that led to a pitched battle – without firearms – in June that led to the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers . Beijing, however, refused to release casualty numbers on its side.
“After 45 years, you’ve actually had bloodshed on the border,” Jaishankar said at the Reuters Next conference. “And that’s had a huge impact on public opinion and on political opinion...really the impact of trust and confidence in India where China and their relationship is concerned...because that has been profoundly disturbed.”
The foreign minister also spoke about how India countered Chinese deployment along the border. “Now last year, for reasons which are not clear to us, the Chinese brought an enormous military force to one part of the border,” he told Reuters. “And then at the Line of Actual Control, obviously we moved up when we saw them coming and that has sort of created, friction points along the Line of Actual Control.”
Jaishankar said that conversely, the ties between India and the United States had been looking up. “When I look at many of the challenges we face, the US is going to be much more open looking for partners and I am confident about where we are going with the relationship,” he said. “Structurally the relationship with the US is very very sound, it has very unique elements, there is political convergence, growing security and defence convergence.”
Last week, outgoing US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster had confirmed that his country closely coordinated with India amid its standoff with China. He, however, left to India to provide details of the cooperation.
In October, the US and India had signed a military pact called Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial cooperation, or BECA. This was designed to give Delhi access to advanced American satellite and map data for better accuracy of its missiles and drones. The agreement was signed during United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark T Esper’s visit to Delhi for the 2+2 ministerial dialogue.
The two countries have held several rounds of talks to resolve the border conflict but there has been no breakthrough so far. With eight rounds of Corps Commander-level talks failing to resolve the standoff, both countries have deployed troops and tanks in sub-zero conditions.
Earlier on Tuesday, Indian Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane said that Pakistan and China continued to pose threats to the northern and eastern borders of India and suggested that there was a possibility of a collusion between the two countries. He added that the Indian forces were ready to counter the threat.
India and China on December 18 agreed to continue working towards ensuring complete disengagement of soldiers along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh as the border standoff between the two neighbouring countries continued.
On December 11, India had blamed China for the ongoing border standoff between the two countries, claiming that it tried to effect a “unilateral change” in the eastern Ladakh region. This came two days after Jaishankar said that the ties between the neighbours are passing through their most difficult phase, claiming that Beijing has offered “five differing explanations” for violating agreements on maintaining peace.